Bulldogs are dependable, loyal and obedient. They have remarkable patience and tolerance and get along very well with other dogs and young children. One would assume that a breed of dog with such short legs would never be susceptible to hip dysplasia or arthritis. The truth is that hip dysplasia in Bulldogs is one of the most common health issues this breed is prone to.
Bulldogs were bred in England for hundreds of years and were originally used in the 17th century for bull baiting –a gambling sport in which dogs fought bulls in a ring.
When bull baiting was outlawed in 1835, Bulldog breeders began to breed dogs that were kinder, heavier, and more relaxed, making them more popular as pets.
Wrinkled faces, fierce and tough looking, friendly and loving, easy to train, mellow and easygoing, courageous and sturdy. This is the description of a Bulldog, the ultimate buddy and an affectionate companion to a single person or a family. Bulldogs may look tough as nails, but they make sweet and gentle pets.
Apartment dwellers and couch potatoes might find Bulldogs the perfect pet: They don’t need too much space and are well-suited to living in apartments.
A pet Bulldog will hang out on the couch with you and watch hours of football or movie marathons. What you watch is of no concern to them, they simply want to be as close to you as possible and are very patient if you’re a rabid channel surfer.
But be advised, they can be very persistent when trying to get your attention, and if you ignore their hints to play and cuddle, they will pester you until they get what they want. They also tend to snore and snort so you’ll need to get used to their rude noises.
They are experts at forming close attachments with their owner or owners and sometimes this bond grows so strong, they’ll stay inside the house until you insist they go out to take care of their biological functions.
Bulldogs are not a good choice for a guard dog though. They can easily intimidate strangers just by their appearance and steady gaze, but they’re just as likely to cozy up and lick the hand of a stranger who acts friendly towards them.
Bulldogs like to chew on things. If you don’t want your furniture and personal things chewed to shreds, be sure to have plenty of ruggedly constructed doggie toys so they don’t start chewing your personal belongings.
Bulldogs are short, sturdy and stocky. With their wrinkled face and stocky builds, they look tough and intimidating.
They have wide heads with cheeks that draw back behind the eyes, thick folds of skin on the forehead, short muzzles, broad black noses, hanging upper lips, wide-set eyes, and small ears that fold back. Their short, sturdy limbs make them look like they are waddling when they walk. Their smooth coats come in a wide range of colors.
Healthy Bulldogs can live as long as 10 years, but they have a long list of hereditary health issues. Some Bulldogs suffer respiratory problems, eyesight problems, and hip dysplasia.
“Statistics from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals indicate that of the 467 Bulldogs tested between 1979 and 2009 (30 years), 73.9% were affected by hip dysplasia, the highest amongst all breeds.”
– Source: Wikipedia
Hip dysplasia in Bulldogs
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that primarily affects large and giant breeds of dogs but can also affect medium-sized breeds and occasionally small breeds. It is primarily a disease of purebreds, although it can also occur in mixed breeds.
To understand hip dysplasia in Bulldogs and the resulting arthritis, you need a basic understanding of how the dog’s hip joint is affected.
The hip joint is comprised of a ball and socket that forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body. The ball portion is the head of the femur and the socket is located on the pelvis.
In a normal hip joint the ball rotates freely within the socket. The bones are shaped to perfectly match each other with the socket surrounding the ball. To strengthen the joint, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament.
The joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue, circles the two bones to provide added stability.
This is an example of a healthy hip joint:
Hip dysplasia is linked to abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the dog’s hip joints.
As the disease progresses, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces.
This is an example of the hip joint of a Bulldog with hip dysplasia:
Most Bulldogs who eventually develop hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but due to their genetic make-up the soft tissues surrounding the joint develop abnormally. This leads to the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left hip.
The symptoms of hip dysplasia in Bulldogs cause afflicted dogs to walk or run with an altered gait, similar to a bunny-hop.
They begin to resist any movement that requires full extension or flexion of the rear legs. They will experience stiffness and pain in their rear legs after exercising and on first rising in the morning. Climbing stairs becomes difficult if not impossible. Some dogs will limp and are less willing to participate in normal daily activities, including walks they formerly enjoyed.
It appears that the amount of calories a dog consumes, especially during its fast-growth period from three to ten months, has the biggest impact on whether or not a dog genetically prone to hip dysplasia will develop the disease.
Obesity can increase the severity of the disease in dogs that are genetically susceptible and the extra weight will intensify the degeneration of a dog’s joints and hips. Dogs who are genetically prone to hip dysplasia and also are overweight, are at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually osteoarthritis.
Exercise can be another risk factor. Dogs genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia may have an increased incidence of the disease if they are over-exercised at a young age. Moderate exercise like running and swimming is best for exercising young dogs.
Because hip dysplasia in Bulldogs is primarily an inherited condition, there are no products that can prevent its development.
Through proper diet and exercise, you can slow, and sometimes halt, the progression of these degenerative joint diseases while providing your dog with relief from its pain.
There are different assumptions on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia in Bulldogs.
Poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed.
Watching the calories your puppy or young dog consumes and preventing obesity in your dog, allowing only non-stressful types of exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, are the best things you can do for your dog.
Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.
There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us at: www.dogshealth.com or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.